The lock screen on Windows Phone 7 shows the date, time, upcoming appointments, and any missed calls or new messages. You can also set a password for the lock screen.
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Microsoft completely rebuilt Windows Phone 7 from the ground up. The Start screen now features live tiles that provide one-touch access to your favorite apps and contacts. They also alert you to new messages and calls and status updates.
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You can rearrange tiles by doing a long press on the Start screen. To pin new contacts and apps to the page, however, you must first navigate to the app list or your contact list.
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A quick swipe to the right from the Start screen brings you to a full list of your apps. We're not huge fans of this long vertical list, as it requires a lot of scrolling. As you add more apps, we can only imagine it will get more unruly.
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A large part of Windows Phone 7 is centered around Hubs, which brings together related content into one central zone. Here you have the People hub, where you can find all your contacts, see their status updates, and more.
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Here is a view of the Pictures hub. All hubs feature a panoramic UI and attractive, bold typography.
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In another view of the Pictures hub, you can view your photos by album.
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You can share photos in a number of ways, including e-mail, MMS, and Facebook. You can also upload it to SkyDrive, Windows Live's online storage system.
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A sample picture taken with the Samsung Taylor's camera in Times Square.
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What's interesting about Windows Phone 7 is that the interface can be both sophisticated and totally minimalistic, like the phone dialer app here.
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The Windows Phone 7 preview device we received from Microsoft is called the Samsung Taylor. It will never be released to market, but will be offered to developers prelaunch so they can test their apps and meet all the platform hardware requirements, including the three requisite navigation buttons. Smartphones from LG will also be distributed to developers.
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Windows Phone 7 offers support for Exchange and POP3/IMAP accounts. Unfortunately, you don't get a unified in-box so each account creates a separate in-box.
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A contextual toolbar in the e-mail app allows you to create a new message, view folders, select messages, sync, and access settings.
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Despite what you might think from this photo, the keyboard is easy to use, accurate, and responsive.
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Here is the landscape keyboard. When you're entering a URL or e-mail address into a To field, the keyboard automatically brings up a .com shortcut. Similarly, when you're writing a message, it surfaces a shortcut to a list of emoticons.
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The calendar is available in various views, including by month.
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You can also view by agenda. Though Windows Phone 7 doesn't offer a unified in-box, it does provide a unified calendar, with appointments color-coded by account.
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Creating new appointments is easy, but we couldn't access our corporate directory to invite attendees.
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There isn't anything particularly noteworthy about text and multimedia messaging on Windows Phone 7, but you do get threaded chat view.
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Windows Phone 7 offers a full Zune experience, including access to the Marketplace. In addition, if you have a Zune Pass subscription, you can stream unlimited music.
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The interface of the Music + Video hub is largely like the Zune HD.
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Windows Phone 7 will require the Zune desktop client, not only for transferring and syncing media, such as podcasts, but also for general device management. No more ActiveSync.
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The music player's interface features simple controls, and also displays album art and an artist image in the background.
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We downloaded a free TV preview from the Zune Marketplace, and playback was smooth.
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Internet Explorer on Windows Phone 7 is much improved in functionality and performance. However, right now, it doesn't support Flash, Silverlight, or HTML5.
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The browser offers a number of options, including search, bookmarks, and the ability to pin Web pages to the Start screen.
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With Windows Phone 7, you can have up to six Web pages open and easily toggle among them with the thumbnail views.
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The Office hub allows you to view, edit, and create Word and Excel documents, as well as view and edit PowerPoint presentations. However, the editing options are pretty light, and there's no copy/paste.
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Search on Windows Phone 7 is handled by Bing. Unfortunately, however, there's no universal search for the phone, so if you want to search for a contact, you must first go to the People hub.
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Alternatively, you can use the phone's voice recognition system to call contacts, launch apps, and so forth.
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Bing offers both a 2D map view as well as an aerial map view.
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A recent update to Bing brought turn-by-turn navigation to the app. What's also nice is that you get both a map view and text-based instructions.
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Xbox Live wasn't turned on for our preview, but here's a screenshot of the Xbox Live hub.
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Windows Marketplace was another feature we weren't able to try, but here's an example of the storefront.
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Another view of the Marketplace, showcasing new apps.